US embassy cable - 87COLOMBO4526

THE LTTE FACES PROBLEMS

Identifier: 87COLOMBO4526
Wikileaks: View 87COLOMBO4526 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Colombo
Created: 1987-07-09 10:20:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PINS PREL CE IN PHUM
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
P 091020Z JUL 87
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3520
INFO AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI
AMCONSUL MADRAS
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 04526 
 
E.O. 12356: DECL: OADR 
TAGS:  PINS, PREL, CE, IN, PHUM 
SUBJECT:  THE LTTE FACES PROBLEMS 
 
1.  CONFIDENTIAL--ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
2.  WE HAVE HEARD FROM A VARIETY OF RELIABLE SOURCES 
THAT THE LTTE HAD BEEN SIGNIFICANTLY WEAKENED BY 
OPERATION LIBERATION BEGUN IN LATE MAY AND THAT IT 
HAD YET TO RECOUP ITS LOSSES.  PERHAPS THE MOST 
DETAILED AND CREDIBLE REPORT CAME FROM LOUIS PAUL, 
A SENIOR EDITOR OF THE SATURDAY REVIEW, A RESPECTED 
JAFFNA FORTNIGHTLY WHICH MAINTAINS VERY GOOD TIES 
WITH THE LTTE.  DCM AND POLCOUNS MET WITH PAUL, WHO 
WAS IN COLOMBO FOR A FEW DAYS, ON JULY 7. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
THE EFFECT OF THE OFFENSIVE 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
3.  PAUL SAID THAT OPERATION LIBERATION WAS A REAL 
TURNING POINT IN THE INSURGENCY SINCE IT RESULTED 
IN THE ALIENATION FROM THE LTTE OF A MAJORITY OF 
THE JAFFNA CIVILIAN POPULATION.  UNTIL THAT POINT, 
MOST JAFFNA CITIZENS--INCLUDING THOSE WHO DID NOT 
AGREE WITH LTTE AIMS OR METHODS--LOOKED UPON THE 
TIGERS AS PROTECTORS WHO SHIELDED THE CIVILIANS FROM 
THE GSL "ARMY OF OCCUPATION."  THE TIGERS IN MANY 
INSTANCES IN MAY/JUNE ABROGATED THIS ROLE:  NOT 
ONLY DID THEY NOT PROTECT THE PEOPLE BUT SOMETIMES 
EVEN FAILED (BEFORE THEY THEMSELVES MELTED AWAY) TO 
WARN THE POPULATION WHEN THEY HAD INTELLIGENCE 
THAT A GSL OPERATION WAS PLANNED IN A SPECIFIC AREA. 
THE COMMON MAN, ACCORDING TO PAUL, DOES NOT UNDERSTAND 
THE DISAPPEARANCE FROM THE FIELD OF THE LTTE AS BEING 
A STANDARD GUERRILLA TACTIC.  INSTEAD HE SEES IT AS 
A BETRAYAL.  THE RESULT HAS BEEN A DRAMATIC SHIFT IN 
ATTITUDES, HE CLAIMS, WITH MANY PEOPLE SHIFTING THEIR 
TRUST FROM THE LTTE TO THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA AS THEIR 
ONLY POSSIBLE "PROTECTOR."  NOW FOR THE FIRST TIME, 
PAUL SAYS, PEOPLE IN JAFFNA ARE TALKING OPENLY ABOUT 
ANNEXATION BY INDIA AS BEING AN ACCEPTABLE, EVEN 
PREFERRED, SOLUTION TO THE CURRENT CRISIS. 
 
4.  BOTH THE SIZE AND MORALE OF THE LTTE HAVE REPORTEDLY 
DIPPED PRECIPITIOUSLY BECAUSE OF THE OFFENSIVE.  PAUL 
BELIEVES THAT THE LTTE HAS BEEN UNABLE TO REPLACE MUCH 
OF THE MUNITIONS AND EQUIPMENT IT LOST DURING THE 
OFFENSIVE.  HE SAYS THAT TIGER MORALE REMAINS LOW.  THE 
NUMBER OF CADRE TOO HAS DROPPED, PAUL SAID, FROM A HIGH 
WHICH HE PLACED AT 7,000 TO SOME 3,000 NOW.  OF THAT 
NUMBER, HE ESTIMATED, ONLY ABOUT 500 HAD RECEIVED ANY 
REAL TRAINING.  WHEN THE OFFENSIVE CAME, MANY SIMPLY 
QUIT FIGHTING BUT STAYED IN THE NORTH.  A NUMBER OF 
YOUNG MEN HAVE LEFT NOT ONLY THE MOVEMENT BUT THE 
ISLAND, CROSSING TO INDIA.  (EMBASSY COMMENT:  SOME 
UNDOUBTEDLY ARE COMING SOUTH AS WELL.  WE WERE TOLD 
JULY 7 BY A WELL-PLACED TAMIL SOURCE IN COLOMBO THAT 
HE WAS BUSY FINDING HOUSING AND PLACEMENT IN SCHOOLS 
FOR A SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF TAMIL YOUTH WHO HAVE 
COME DOWN FROM JAFFNA PENINSULA IN RECENT DAYS.) 
 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
THE LTTE LEADERSHIP 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
 
5.  PAUL SAID THAT RECENT GSL CLAIMS OF SUCCESSES IN 
KILLING VARIOUS TIGER LEADERS (WHICH WE HAD QUESTIONED 
IN OUR LATEST WEEKLY ROUNDUP, COLOMBO 4388) ARE 
ESSENTIALLY CORRECT.  HE SAID THAT THE SECURITY FORCES 
HAVE "DECIMATED" THE UPPER-MIDDLE LEADERSHIP IN RECENT 
MONTHS AND THAT PRABHAKARAN NOW SUFFERS FROM A DEARTH 
OF QUALIFIED LIEUTENANTS.  MAHATHAYA (THE ALIAS SIMPLY 
MEANS "MR."), THE FORMER KILINOCHCHI AREA COMMANDER 
WHO WAS BROUGHT TO JAFFNA TO TAKE OVER AFTER KITTU WAS 
WOUNDED EARLIER THIS YEAR, IS DEFINITELY PRABHAKARAN'S 
SENIOR LIEUTENANT NOW.  KITTU HOWEVER CONTINUES TO 
REMAIN ACTIVE IN THE LTTE DESPITE SOME REPORTS HERE 
THAT HE HAD LEFT THE ORGANIZATION AFTER THE ATTEMPT 
ON HIS LIFE.  (EMBASSY COMMENT:  ACCORDING TO IQBAL 
ATHAS, A COLOMBO JOURNALIST WHO REPORTS EXTENSIVELY 
ON THE LTTE AND WHO HAS EXCELLENT CONTACTS WITH THEIR 
LEADERSHIP, MAHATHAYA'S REAL NAME IS MAHENDRA RAJA. 
HE IS BETWEEN 35-40 YEARS OLD AND IS FROM VAVUNIYA 
IN THE WANNI AREA SOUTH OF THE PENINSULA.  (SEE 
COLOMBO 2374 OF APRIL 9 FOR WHAT OTHER FEW DETAILS 
WE HAVE ON MAHATHAYA.) 
 
6.  BUT, AS WE HAVE REPORTED BEFORE, THE LTTE REMAINS 
A HIGHLY CENTRALIZED AND AUTHORITARIAN ORGANIZATION. 
PRABHAKARAN IS "THE ONLY LEADER" WHO COUNTS AT ALL. 
IF SOMETHING WERE TO HAPPEN TO HIM, PAUL SAYS, THE 
LTTE WOULD PROBABLY FALL APART.  PRABHAKARAN REMAINS 
ON THE PENINSULA BUT CONTINUES TO STAY OUT OF SIGHT. 
HE HAS REFUSED TO SEE ANY OF THE MANY JAFFNA 
JOURNALISTS OR PROMINENT CITIZENS WHO HAVE ASKED 
TO SEE HIM IN RECENT MONTHS.  PAUL COMMENTED THAT 
PRABHAKARAN AND PRESIDENT JAYEWARDENE SHARE AT LEAST 
ONE WEAKNESS:  "THEY BOTH SUFFER FROM ISOLATION FROM 
THEIR PEOPLE." 
 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
PRABHAKARAN AND NEGOTIATIONS 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
 
7.  PRABHAKARAN REMAINS ABSOLUTELY UNBENDING IN HIS 
DEMAND FOR EELAM.  PAUL SAID THAT MANY IN THE LTTE 
HIERARCHY, INCLUDING SPECIFICALLY KITTU AND RAHIM, 
WOULD PROBABLY AGREE TO A NEGOTIATED SETTLEMENT AS 
LONG AS IT INCLUDED THE CONCEPT OF A TAMIL "HOMELAND." 
BUT PRABHAKARAN WOULD NOT AGREE TO NEGOTIATIONS UNDER 
ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, AND HIS IS THE ONLY LTTE VIEW WHICH 
MATTERS.  HIS ANTIPATHY TO NEGOTIATIONS EXTENDS TO 
REFUSING EVEN SECRET, INDIRECT CONTACTS WITH THE GSL: 
ACCORDING TO PAUL, PRABHAKARAN THIS SPRING REFUSED 
TO SEE THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF THE SATURDAY REVIEW 
(GAMINI NAVARATNA, ONE OF THE RELATIVELY FEW SINHALESE 
LIVING IN JAFFNA) EVEN KNOWING THAT NAVARATNA HAD BEEN 
ASKED BY THE PRESIDENT TO DELIVER A  MESSAGE TO HIM 
ON J. R.'S  BEHALF.  PAUL APPEARED TO BELIEVE THAT A 
WAY WOULD HAVE TO BE FOUND TO REMOVE PRABHAKARAN FROM 
THE SCENE IF THERE WERE TO BE ANY HOPE FOR A NEGOTIATED 
SOLUTION TO THE CRISIS. 
 
 
SPAIN 

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